Photo by Bill Pratt
It is time to celebrate the conclusion of Brad Davis’ meditations on the biblical Psalms. In Like Those Who Dream, the final volume of his four-part series entitled OPENING KING DAVID, Davis focuses much of his attention on the transcendent Hope commended by St. Paul, and he does so with all the joy, passion, and good humor of a true man of God. Early readers have been universally enthusiastic about the originality, wisdom, and literary excellence of Like Those Who Dream. Baron Wormser writes as follows: “Brad Davis’s poems are like sparks variously struck on the anvil of a soul. They resonate, amuse, engage, and sometimes take wing. The biblical words they heed are all the more real for the inspired conversation between the poet’s now and the Psalmic then. What emerges is not so much relevance as a keen sense of the timelessness of the human predicament.” And this from David Wojahn: "Brad Davis writes in the tradition of Herbert and Hopkins: which is to say his subject is how matters of spiritual crisis can alchemize—through empathy and a fastidious attention to craft—first into matters of devotion, and ultimately into matters of revelation. He chooses this most challenging of approaches while also insisting that revelation must reside within the everyday, the quotidian. He understands, in a deep and abiding fashion, what Eluard meant when he said that there is another world, but it is in this one." Cover - No Vile Thing Betsy Sholl is equally struck by the power of these latest poetic meditations from Brad Davis: “Often in elegant and conversational unrhymed sonnets, Brad Davis continues his work of restringing the music of the psalms for contemporary instruments. As he says in one poem, he’s here ‘to A-men love and a nine-piece funk band.’ And indeed he does, taking on the great classical conundrums of faith with a delicious and sometimes bluesy backbeat. It’s a great relief to read poems that address the moral malaise of our times, the seduction of nihilism, with so much clarity and intelligence. Davis does not offer easy answers, but rather lets faith and doubt spar until hope becomes the clear winner.”   

Brad Davis is from San Diego, California. He has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught at The Stony Brook School (NY), Eastern Connecticut State University, the College of the Holy Cross (MA), and Pomfret School (CT) where he was the founding editor of Broken Bridge Review and the Broken Bridge Folio Series. His own poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, DoubleTake, Image, Michigan Quarterly Review, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut Review, Puerto del Sol, Ascent, and other journals. In 1995, a poem of his won an AWP Intro Journal Award; in 2005, his chapbook Short List of Wonders won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize (selected by Dick Allen); and in 2009, a poem of his won the IAM (International Arts Movement) Poetry Award (selected by Brett Lott). Brad is married to Deb; they have a son John who lives with his wife Mariko in Brooklyn (NY).

Breaking News: the poem "Praise Him" (from Like Those Who Dream) just came out in an anthology of poetry and prose that engages with the New Atheism. The book is GOD IS DEAD AND I DON'T FEEL SO GOOD MYSELF, published by Cascade Books (2010). The poem is the lead-off piece in the book.

Click here to read a major review of all four books in the Opening King David series, published in the journal Christianity & Literature, Summer 2009; and here for a stellar review in ForeWord magazine.

Click here to read four sample poems.

Click here to view Brad Davis’ upcoming events.

Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room.

For other books in the Opening King David series, see the Antrim House catalog.

BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN:978-0-9798451-8-5
74 pages, 6" x 9" perfect bound

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May the Maker of heaven and earth bless you.
Psalm 134:3


COMMON AS AIR


When Mrs. Weiss told us in earth science,
a light, limb-filtered breeze blessing us
through the room’s west wall windows,
that somewhere camouflaged within
our every lung-full of air marches air

Hitler breathed and Khrushchev and
Richard Speck, I began breathing less –
shorter intakes, pauses after each exhale –
willing to endure panicky bursts of craving
in exchange for reducing the likelihood

of those radioactive atoms passing
from lung to blood to brain. If she included
mention of the Buddha or Madame Curie,
I do not remember it. Terror is air-borne.
And though I have been slow to believe,

so are wisdom and beauty, the breath
of canticle and rain forest, and in such
measure as dwarfs the one or two
dark, burrowing parts per million of all
that is our phenomenal inheritance. How

I wish now a teacher had told us that this
is the reason, when we hyperventilate,
we get so dizzy – so much goodness
flooding our little brains it very nearly
bowls us over, tips us toward our knees.

Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy.
Psalm 123:3


HISTORY


I didn’t think to clear it – no
reason to cover my tracks –
so you found the link, How to
Unsnap a Bra, standing out
on yesterday’s browsing history
like a new student in the front row.
The two-minute video was not
on my to-do list; the original
e-mail promised a laugh
and the link delivered me
to a menu offering a full range
of options. The category: “Self-
help.” The tone: humorous. But like
so much that’s never equal
to its billing – a mailbox filled
with new messages – the footage
was neither funny nor (and here
I’m twelve again, the riddle
of that clasp yet unsolved) the least
bit helpful. So damn easy
to waste time! And had we
a history button on our foreheads
that, when touched or kissed
or punched, sent a scrollable
menu across our cheeks –
obsessions on display – we’d
never again show our mugs in public.
Yes, I am guilty. I watched
the video. At least, most of it.
And yes, I could have been
outside or folding the laundry
or doing just about anything else
and I’d have been far better
occupied. But no excuses. Not one.

We were like those who dreamed.
Psalm 126:1


GOOGLE ROBIN NEEDHAM

for Lucy et al.


Your e-mail’s subject line read Clearing.
(How soon will this language be obsolete?)

I pictured the six of you arm-in-arm
outside your home in Katmandu, mountains

over your shoulders, the latest monsoon
making a welcome but fitful exit.

Here, a half-dozen chimney swifts cavort
above my neighbors’ roof, oblivious

to the suffering you have called home
for three decades, your tent pitched among

refugees – Kampuchea, Bangladesh,
Kenya; your witness, even through the years

we lost touch, an icon of the good dream.
You are moving again, and while clearing

out boxes from closets, you found my letter,
dated, and new e-mail address and so

thought to bring me up to speed. Has it been
a year since I wrote to you? But then

your second paragraph. I had to read it
three times before I could receive its news:

the six of you on holiday in Thailand,
the twins and boys trading laugh-out-loud tales

of college life and school in Chiang Mai, all
settled in at Golden Buddha Beach.

Which is when, like Herod’s goons in Bedlam,
the Christmas tsunami tore into you.

“Life is strange,” you wrote. “The children ran
for their lives. I survived. And Robin, well,

google Robin Needham.” So I did.
Now, in these ridiculous lines – his body

found after five days by Nat, your oldest,
a full kilometer into the jungle – I

cut a path through the dense tangle of crap
in my psyche to the wide open place

where all our long silences – wanted
and unwanted – converge and embrace.

When my spirit grows faint within me…
Psalm 142:3


RUMOR HAS IT


Religion is for the birds, she proclaimed
from the pulpit the week, by her own

initiative and at her own expense,
she had the sagging stained glass windows

removed and sent upstate for repairs.
Barely able to afford her, the congregation,

small, staid, and aging, hardly
recognized the old, smoke-darkened walls

as we choristers processed all wide-eyed
into thrilling light, a wind – not even

plastic over the empty frames – playing
among the pews, between our legs, candle fire

jitterbugging on the altar. She led
the worship that morning as though the life

of the world depended on our singing
those canticles and antiphons. Yes, hers

was my kind of spiritual madness – how
she took captive our deepest affections

and required of us laughter. Quite unlike
the bishop who, for her burial, ruled

that she be dressed in eucharistic finery,
a faux-linen collar gripping her neck.

But he could not grant her the dying wish
she, all eyes at eighty-one, whispered

over whiskey to her funeral director –
to be buried “sans underwear” – who did.

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